Big Four firm PricewaterhouseCoopers has named Rob Ward to head its global assurance practice - the company's largest line of service. Ward had previously served as deputy global assurance leader and will succeed Gerald Ward (no relation), who is retiring after more than 30 years of service.

Ward, 51, will oversee 5,000 partners and approximately 55,000 employees for the business line, which had revenues of $8.7 billion for the 2004 fiscal year. Before joining the Global Assurance Group, he had been the national managing partner of PwC Australia.

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